Sunday, August 2, 2009

Taking my Laptop Apart

IBM T43 - Sheva Apelbaum

Since I was little I loved playing on the computer. When I was two years old, my mom made a special keyboard to go with a software program that my dad wrote for me. Instead of the regular letters and numbers it had pictures of animals, geometrical shapes, and colors. Each time I pressed a key, a sound played and the picture on the key would appear on my screen.

My Game Keyboard  - Sheva Apelbaum
My Game Keyboard

When I got to third grade, my dad convinced me to learn how to type. He said that if I get to 30 WPM, he would get me my own laptop as a reward. So, two years ago, I took a typing course (using Mavis Beacon) and after several weeks of daily practice got to a typing rate of 35 WPM.

My dad bought a broken IBM ThinkPad laptop, repaired it, and gave it to me. I started to use my laptop for watching movies, listening to music, drawing, school assignments, book reviews, and for writing my stories. After using the laptop for a while, I became interested in what made the computer work and what was actually inside. So, just a few days ago my dad suggested that we take my laptop apart and find out.

When talking about the contents of my laptop, my dad used words that we use to describe the human body. For instance, he said that a computer has a “brain” and “memory”. I also learned about the other parts including the CPU, hard drive, memory, motherboard, battery, keyboard, and DVD drive.

Taking the laptop apart was a lot of fun. If you are planning to do the same (after getting permission from your parents first!), I have the following advice for you:
  1. First make sure you have the right tools (I used a small flathead screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver.
  2. Examine the computer very carefully while taking it apart (you may want to take pictures of each stage or draw sketches of the parts). This will help you when you put it together again.
  3. Use several containers for the screws (My laptop had 3 different types of screws, each one was marked with a different number).
  4. Be very gentle when taking the components apart. If a part is not moving it is probably because it’s still attached. Examine it carefully before using any force.
  5. Some parts in my laptop either snap into place (like the memory) or have ribbons that connect to the motherboard (like the keyboard). When re-connecting these parts, be very careful not to force them into place or you might break them.

Finally, before taking apart the computer or touching any internal parts you should ground and discharge yourself from static electricity by touching a water faucet and wearing an anti-static strip. This may reduce the risk of accidentally destroying the internal parts of the computer.


  1. Gosh! How amazing that you actually took a laptop apart...I would be terrified that I would break it or fry the hard drive or something. And that keyboard is the cutest thing. I love your blog, Sheva!

  2. Good job on taking the laptop apart! Next, you should disassemble the piano.

  3. wowee .. your mom just pointed me in the direction of your blog .. very cool! I certainly never had a blog at your age, but oh yeah that's right, they didn't exist then! And you took your laptop apart??? Now that is confidence .. well ok, your dad helped but hey .. i love the stickers, the sounds and I congratulate you on your typing skills! I learnt to type using one of those 'old fashioned' typewriters but i am grateful I did .. I shall follow your blog with interest!!

    Kerrin (friend of your mom's) from Portugal :)

  4. As usual, you AMAZE me Sheva!!
    Maybe you can move up from taking apart the computer to fixing the brake lights on our car that keep shorting out?!

  5. Lauren P says:
    Sheva, It's really cool how you got the laptop apart. I think the other keyboard with the symbols and pictures is really, really cool too.

  6. That's incredible--what you know about the computer is way beyond my knowledge. I can type, but probably twenty-nine words a minute. Another cool thing is our cats have similar names!

    I once took a radio apart and fixed it...this is my great success story with technology-repair. It was one of those old-fashioned band radios, and the band was broken. I just tied it together again, and it worked! Violin hands helped...

  7. So, Sheva, I've determined that you're basically the smartest little girl ever. I don't think I know how to do even half the things you do, and I'm years older than you are. I am so proud of you.

    Love, Erin